Ramsey buzzer-beater nets Boca Raton first state title
Audrey Ramsey, who'd struggled to score throughout the Class 9A girls basketball final four, hit a 3-point buzzer-beater to lift Boca Raton to its first state title.
Coming out of a timeout with the score tied 42-42, the 5-foot-6 sophomore point guard took a quick pass from senior standout Grace Marko, dribbled twice to the arc and let fly.
It was the Bobcats' third straight trip to states and the first time they've lifted the championship trophy.
The storybook finish, though, could easily have ended otherwise.
Ferguson (24-8), which walloped Apopka Wekiva 52-33 in the semifinals, lived up to its reputation in Saturday's final - aggressive on the attack, fighting for position in the paint, ball-hawking on defense.
The Falcons led Boca in steals (10-6), had fewer turnovers (19 to 21), got to the foul line more often (18 free-throw attempts to 14 for the Bobcats) and looked faster, hungrier and just plain undaunted on the court.
Boca coach Nhu Nguyen said Ramsey wasn't the first option as the Bobcats held the ball with :02 left on the game clock.
"Our first option was to go to Rachel," Nguyen said, referring to his All-State forward and Harvard signee Rachel Levy. "Second option was Grace and then Audrey."
Levy led Boca Raton with 13 points; Marko, a Boston College signee, had 11 points and seven rebounds.
Ramsey, who'd scored just one point Friday in Boca's 58-45 semifinal win over Orlando Olympia, netted five points in the first half Saturday, but went scoreless for the third and most of the fourth quarter.
Still, she didn't hesitate.
"I was pretty confident it would go in," Ramsey said.
Boca (26-6) last year fell to Vero Beach in double overtime in the title game and lost to Miami Senior in the 2015 semifinals.
"It was an incredible ending to an incredible story," Nguyen said.
The coach later teared up when talking to reporters about the team's prospects for returning to Lakeland next season, sans seniors Levy and Marko. "Kids like that don't come around very often."
The Bobcats will return three starters in Ramsey, junior forward Hannah Pratt and freshman guard Kelsi Mingo.